[Review] Steam Tactics – Nintendo Switch

Written by Anna Karasik
  • Developer: Igor Rashkuev
  • Publisher: Sometimes You
  • Release Date: 8/5/2020
  • Price:  £8.99 / $9.99
  • Review code provided by Sometimes You

Introducing Steam Tactics Nintendo Switch Review

It’s safe to say that most people will do a double-take on Steam Tactics whether they’re a strategy fan or not, thanks to the adorable animal mascots. Further investigation reveals that this game is a lot more basic than its lovingly-drawn character portraits let on. Here, we have extremely simple gameplay, and just enough room for customization so as to not overwhelm genre newbies or younger players. 

Queen’s Quest

The game’s linear story takes you down an increasingly treacherous trail. The king is gravely ill, evil forces stir, and your squad of master airship tacticians must carry out the Queen’s orders to save the realm. Unfortunately, you meet opposition every step of the way from increasingly difficult baddies. The good news is that you’ll also recruit new help along the journey, rounding out your party. 

Although the plot doesn’t offer anything out-of-this-world, there are some witty remarks and cute moments to be had. And again, I’d like to reiterate the utter beauty of each character portrait!

Locked and Loaded

After choosing your level on the map and experiencing a little story dialogue, you’ll be thrust into an air battle. There isn’t really a tutorial, but combat is pretty simple, anyway. Maps consist of grids with floating rocks providing obstacles here and there. Each ship’s movement and attack range depends on the weapons they’re given prior to the round. 

The art is detailed enough to make it clear which ship is which, and whose “team” they’re on, with the only real distraction being occasional weather effects. The animations are just as sharp as the graphics. All that said, there isn’t anything particularly eye-catching or special happening visually during battles.

Choosing where to move in combat becomes increasingly difficult as you take into account each enemy’s attack range, trying to avoid retaliation from their weapons. Thankfully, there is no consequence to dying or restarting mid-combat – another feature that makes this game very accessible to strategy newbies or little ones.

Bigger and Better

Progression is impossible without getting your hands dirty and upgrading your tech to match up with increasingly strong baddies. As you accumulate and buy weapons with varying capabilities and ranges, they can be fitted to each ally’s ship. Both ships and weapons can be upgraded using money and spare parts. My only complaint here is that managing these weapons can get overwhelming, even with a shop to sell weak items in. It doesn’t help that the tiny menu text is especially difficult to keep track of in handheld mode. 

Another layer of thoughtfulness needs to go into these decisions if you consider the character stats. When each ally levels up, you can allocate skill points towards their general piloting (HP, etc) or attributes like Reflexes that help with certain kinds of weapons. Those who are unhappy with their choices partway through a playthrough can use an item to wipe the character’s stats and re-allocate all of the points.

Sometimes, even after upgrading, a level can seem impossible no matter how many times you throw yourself at it. In those cases, you can replay past levels at two more difficulty levels – an opportunity for more experience, crafting materials, and cash. 

Cut and Dry

With such easy-to-learn combat, bland-looking stages, and inoffensive music, it’s a blessing that battles won’t suck up too much of your time: like a mobile game, Steam Tactics would be ideal for passing time in a waiting room or on a commute. Between replaying difficult stages, crafting perfect weapon combos, and replaying for extra loot, there’s certainly no shortage of content. However, not even the charming characters and sweeping tale of heroism can help this game’s monotony. Parents shopping for young players or those interested in similar, more difficult board game-style strategy titles might want to give this one a look!

Pros:

  • Simple, accessible combat
  • Replayable with extra difficulties
  • Adorable character portraits

Cons:

  • Bland stages, music
  • Confusing item management

Verdict:
While Steam Tactics is neither awful nor outstanding, this simple game invites people in with beautiful and adorable character portraits. 

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